The Buckeye men and women’s hockey teams have much to celebrate as the 2022 Winter Olympics kick off in Beijing this week.
Seven present or former Buckeye hockey players will be participating in the games. Alum Matt Tomkins will represent Team Canada in men’s ice hockey, while six women’s hockey players will represent five countries (Emma Maltais and Natalie Spooner will represent Canada, Sophie Lundin will rep Sweden, Andrea Braendli will compete for Switzerland, and Minttu Tuominen will represent Finland).
But the Buckeye athlete I’m most excited to watch is alum Jincy Dunne, who earned her spot on Team USA and will be making her Olympic debut as one of eight first-time Olympians on the roster in Beijing.
The 2019 graduate is one of the most decorated players in OSU history, earning the Big Ten Medal of Honor and Ohio State Female Athlete of the Year — the first women’s hockey player to do so — her final season in 2020.
If you’ve followed Dunne’s time at OSU at all, you know she is a force both on and off the ice. Captain or alternate captain for four out of her five seasons as a Buckeye, Dunne was known as a steady beacon of leadership, support and reliability for her teammates.
As the top recruit of her class, the defenseman’s talent was never in question. At times, she seems able to see the future on the ice, reading plays steps ahead of their development. But her road to the Olympics — a lifelong dream of hers — hasn’t been without obstacles.
At just 16, she made the final round of cuts for the 2014 Olympic team. Coupled with a game-winning goal to win Team USA the 2015 International Ice Hockey Federation U18 Women’s World Championship, Dunne was on the radar of nearly every college in America.
But after committing to the Buckeyes, a severe concussion kept her out of the 2015-2016 season, adding both physical and mental obstacles to her plate.
The greats are made under pressure, and Dunne is no exception. She rose to the challenge, and arguably, her resilience in the face of these obstacles — along with furthered difficulties due to coaching turnover amidst NCAA recruiting violations — helped shape her and prepare her to become an Olympian.
Her mental toughness aided her comeback from the injury, and in the process, she blossomed even further as a player and teammate, helping to take the Buckeyes from the losing record they had when she committed to a 24-win team in her final season.
While Dunne ended her Buckeye career on a win, her final season didn’t end the way she hoped. After upsetting Wisconsin in the conference championship, OSU secured a guaranteed bid for the NCAA quarterfinals, which were later canceled due to Covid-19.
After all her hard work and persistence, her trip to Beijing is her next big chance to taste victory.
The Opening Ceremonies are scheduled for Friday, February 4, though if you’d like to watch live, you’ll need to tune in on Thursday due to the time difference. Team USA’s women’s ice hockey kicks off their quest for gold against Finland on Thursday, February 3. You can find the full schedule of events here.